From Baghdad to the bar: A blind refugee’s jaunt – BBC News

Image copyright Allan Hennessy

As Aphra watched her son Allan graduate from Cambridge University last-place month, she pondered back to the moment he was born .

“I’m so sorry your babe is dazzle, ” a neighbour in Baghdad had said.

Aphra became the talk of the town because of the taboo associated with her son’s condition.

It was Iraq in 1995 – Saddam Hussein was president, the Gulf War had ended only three years earlier and citizens were suffering under embargoes placed on the country.

As a blind child, Allan Hennessy’s promises were poor.

Image copyright KARIM SAHEB/ AFP/ Getty Images
Image caption Political discontent in Baghdad, Iraq in 1992
Today, walking around his college in Cambridge, Allan is confident and articulate πŸ˜› TAGEND

“I have so many accents now, ” he says.

“If someone from Iraq announces, I refute in Arabic, ‘As-salaam-alaikum’.

“At Cambridge I have a posh, round-vowelled voice.

“Then I speak to a teammate from the owned – ‘Oh my eras, all right bruv? ‘

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Media captionAllan Hennessy was born totally blind in Iraq after the Gulf War .

He is merely 22 but already Allan has smashed impediments that many will not face in a lifetime.

So how did a baby born blind in a war-torn country become a top student at a world-leading university?

Image copyright Allan Hennessy

In Iraq, Allan’s family were middle class – his granddad was a sheikh and they lived a comfy, even luxurious life.

But Iraqi infirmaries could not give Allan hope of sight.

“My dad tried to get me medication but there weren’t enough seeing professionals – they reputed I would always be blind.”

But when Allan was six months old, an opportunity has now come Allan’s father grabbed it.

“My dad sold up to pay for the care – his gondola, belongings, some of his tract. We left Iraq with very little.”

Image copyright Allan Hennessy
Image caption An see procedure in London regenerated part sight in one of Allan’s gazes

The opportunity was an operation in London which restored part see in Allan’s left eye.

“My mum recollects the first time I looked at her – the first time we obligated seeing contact. She burst into tears.

“Since then I’ve just been rocking on with the little seeing I have, ” he explains.

Image copyright Allan Hennessy
Image caption Allan with their own families

Allan’s mother and his siblings also endeavoured political asylum in London, but life as immigrants was challenging.

“They enjoyed their life in Iraq, but when contexts changed, the latter are forced to become refugees.

“They did not speak English, and we lived on London council estates – they had a real culture shock.”

Image copyright Allan Hennessy
Image caption Allan and his siblings fulfilling Father Christmas

“Jihadi John” – who joined so-called Islamic State in Syria and appeared in videos depicting beheadings of prisoners – grew up on the same estate.

Although Allan is visibly uncomfortable at any mention of the activist, the link foregrounds the distinction between his childhood and many of his peers at Cambridge.

“When parties at university ask me about “peoples lives”, they contemplate ‘he’s had a really difficult life’.

“But the reason I’m able to get on with it is because I look back at my family in Iraq and I contemplate I’m very privileged.”

Image copyright Allan Hennessy

Allan is not the kind of person to do what he is told.

“I’ve lived my life visualizing I’m not partially-sighted.

“I adored riding my bicycle and clambering scaffolding, although there is I wasn’t actually meant to.

“When we went to the fairground, I ever wanted to drive the bumper cars.”

Like many children, Allan was no angel at school.

“I was in the lowest place for everything and I would bunk off academy. I shed eggs at bus, trash that teenagers do, ” he says.

But eventually Allan realised he was able to do better πŸ˜› TAGEND

“After GCSEs I got a brand-new intensity and I realised the boys in the top locateds weren’t any smarter than me.”

In 2012 he applied to study law at Cambridge University.

“Everyone and everything was so lily-white – I felt visibly different, ” he says, remembering his first impressions.

He became one of merely seven people with impaired spate accepted that time and the first person in his family to listen university.

“All my life I’ve been told I cannot, does not necessarily, shall not be required to be and would not. The disabled stereotype is quashed, powerless – and the most difficult struggle for me is to overcome that stigma.

“When you leave your thoroughfare, you are treated with negativity and contempt. You receive a lot of hatred for what you do, but all you’re doing is what ‘normal’ people are doing, ” he says.

Image copyright Allan Hennessy

Allan spent three years at Fitzwilliam College and says it has been transformative.

“I gratified the most amazing parties from all over countries around the world. But there was also a lot of negativity guided at me.

“When you’re an overweight, dark-brown, dazzle person climbing the greasy pole, everyone can see and they adjudicate you – even though they are doing it too.”

What would his life is just like if he had remaining in Iraq?

“I wouldn’t have a Cambridge law degree – I wouldn’t even be sighted.

“My family there have faced horrible, traumatic events, including capture by so-called Islamic State.

“Perhaps I wouldn’t be alive.”

Image copyright Allan Hennessy
Image caption Allan with his mum at graduation

After graduating this summer, Allan is taking up a prestigious fellowship at statute school.

“If you’ve got a first-class law degree from Cambridge University, that should set you up for life, ” he says.

“But when you’re a daze, Muslim immigrant lives here in Britain today, there is so much more I have to do. The expedition has only just begun.”

By UGC& Social news

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